Category: Spiritual Path
Should I pray to my "Higher Self"?
November 11, 2014
I really can’t resist asking this question because it’s so important to me. There is a post in this forum entitled "Broken promises, bad karma, and divine forgiveness" where N. Hriman says the Masters are none other than your own Higher Self. This makes me sad and disappointed! Are we fooling ourselves? Does our higher self "pose" as Master and the gurus, and even as God? Shouldn’t we then just always pray to our higher Self? Is Guruji really there for us? I feel deceived.
Your question is confusing, if somewhat heated! It is an axiom of Vedanta and metaphysics that there is no other reality but God, who has created this universe and us — not with sticks and stones but by "becoming" the cosmos (through vibration and duality) in the grand illusion called "maya."
In this precept, our ego has no essential reality. The masters act as instruments, stepping down the Infinite Power onto wavelengths, so to speak, that we can handle and relate to. As we are children of God and sparks of the Divine Flame of Life, so are the masters who come to guide us to Self-Realization. So, yes, the masters are none other than our own Self, and they, in turn, none other than the Self of All: God!
Master once consoled a devotee in regards to his future departure from earth, "To those who think me near, I am near." At another time he promised that for those who stay loyal and attuned to the end of life, he, or one of the masters, would be there to usher us into the astral world. Such is the divine promise, for the masters have been sent by God to lead souls to the eternal shores of His bliss.
Yes, you can pray to your "higher Self" if you feel to, but then how do you know this higher Self isn’t but your ego or subconscious? Far safer to pray to God in the form of one’s guru(s) until such time as the soul is awakened and we become identified with it as our true Self. Yet, even the soul is not absolutely "other" from God, though our uniqueness as a soul is eternal. A paradox that we cannot solve with the mind alone.
Ironically, at such time, the differences fade into insignificance, except in this respect: for us to achieve freedom, we, too must help others as the gurus have helped us! The goal of the guru is to awaken the inner guru. The essence of both, however, is divine. In God alone is freedom and we are One. A "mantra" I like goes like this: "There is no god but God. No good, but God; no-thing, but God."
Swami Kriyananda’s form of practicing the Presence was to mentally chant, "Aum Guru." Many a saint achieved freedom by mentally calling to his or her guru. Yogananda’s most advanced disciple, Rajarshi Janakananda, become so identified with his guru, that he could not longer distinguish his thoughts from his guru’s. Swami Kriyananda prayed that every thought and feeling he would have would be in tune with and an emanation from his guru’s consciousness.
Be not afraid and do not let the ego undermine your aspirations by refusing to accept and realize God’s presence in the guru(s). The ego is very, very clever. Only the heart knows.
Hi, I am a disciple of Paramhansa Yoganandaji. I am a Sikh by faith. Is it okay for me to continue chanting Sikh prayers along with our Guru’s meditation techniques? Or will this affect my attunement with our Guru? I note that in Autobiography of a Yogi, Lahiri Mahasaya states that everyone should practice their faith. I have even read somewhere Guruji saying that we should all meditate on a passage from our scriptures daily. I note that Guruji focused on Hindu and Christian scriptures only.
As Lahiri Mahasaya stated, one can continue in one’s own religion while practicing the Path of Kriya Yoga, which includes the techniques which he taught. If you feel that your faith is important to you, then certainly continue with it. If chanting Sikh prayers helps you in your spiritual growth, then again, continue to use them.
The point is not to be defined by any outward belief or religion. Our focus should be on returning to our true home, to the kingdom of God within. This is the emphasis that Paramhansa Yogananda brought to all of us.
Yogananda did encourage the daily reading of scriptures as a way to keep us in the flow of God’s presence. He also stated that his mission was to bring back into focus the original teachings of Jesus Christ and the original teachings of yoga as taught by Krishna and the great yoga masters.
It wasn’t so much an exclusion of other teachings such as Islam or Buddhism or the Sikh religion, but Yogananda felt that the essence of all religion, also known as "Sanaatan Dharma,” was clearly expressed in the teachings of Jesus Christ and Krishna. Yogananda’s emphasis with these teachings is one of universality; in other words, they could be applied by anyone, no matter what outward garb of religion one felt drawn toward.
Blessings on your spiritual journey,
From a spiritual beginner: Which form of God should I worship?
October 28, 2014
I am a beginner in spiritual life. I know that God is all pervading so I find it difficult to worship any specific form of God. To which form of God should I worship? What did Yoganandaji suggest?
Congratulations on beginning your spiritual quest. Much joy awaits you.
The best form of God to worship is the form that you can best relate to, aspire to, and love — whatever awakens your heart’s love.
For that reason, Yoganandaji suggested that most people would do well to relate to God as Divine Mother: God within creation. Since we too are “in creation,” one could say that’s the closest aspect of God to us. In reality, of course, there is no closer or farther, for God is everything. But our human minds tend to see things that way. We also think of the human mother as ever-forgiving and unconditionally loving, whereas the human father is often seen as more distant, more likely to discipline and judge us. Those qualities can — in our own minds, only — carry over to our perspectives on God. So it’s easy to see how we might naturally feel more attracted to God as Divine Mother than as Heavenly Father.
Another option is to see the Guru as God. This is an excellent approach if you feel you have a guru, since the guru has, or has had, a physical form that you might relate to — and come to love — more easily. Guru is the aspect of Divine Mother that has direct responsibility for freeing your soul.
So it’s your choice. Just remember: God doesn’t want you to worship any particular form. God wants only your love. Worship — which is to say, offer your love to — the form that best awakens the natural love of your heart.
I hope this helps.
Simple ways to learn that God is the Doer
October 21, 2014
What is the meaning of surrender to God? How can I keep the attitude that God is the doer while working?
"Surrender" to God means many things but certainly starts with or includes openness to God’s presence in our lives. It includes being open to do (and think, and say) what is true, right, and just. It is another way of saying that we should be willing to do "God’s will" as it is shown to us by our common sense, moral and ethical guidelines, scripture, and the wisdom of the ages and sages.
The more we live seeking attunement to God’s presence (and this includes prayer and meditation, as well a right action), the more we God’s presence. The more we feel that divine energy within and all around the less we feel we are the doer and the more easily we experience that God is Doer in all things.
During daily activities develop the habit of mindfulness (of God). Silently chanting God’s name, a mantra, or prayerful thoughts as we go about our activities can help us feel God’s energy working through us. Practice seeing God as the Higher Self of each person you meet, whether likable or disagreeable, and seeing our rightful duties as God’s will for us.
Meditation should be the bedrock of our efforts to experience direct personal perception of God’s presence. From that daily effort in silent, inner communion, we can go about our daily activities with joy, willingness, and God’s power.
May the grace of God and the Masters guide and fill you with wisdom and joy,
To find God, do I have to fulfill my childhood desires?
October 21, 2014
Hi, Yogananda says that all desires must be fulfilled. Is this also the case with lower desires you may have when you’re young or emotional but grow out of? Will you have to 'suffer' the consequences of having those desires even after you’ve developed and now want different things? Thank you
Swami Kriyananda once asked Paramhansa Yogananda that very question: “Do you mean that even a desire I had once for an ice cream cone when I was six years old will have to be somehow fulfilled?" “Oh yes,” Yoganandaji replied.
Every desire traps some of your energy in a whirlpool. That energy must be freed in order for you to become Self-realized. It can be freed either through fulfilling the desire outwardly (not the recommended—or even feasible—approach), or through spiritual practices. As Patanjali put it in his Yoga Sutras: “Yoga is the neutralization of the whirlpools of feeling. Then the Seer abides in Its essence.” In other words, once you have dissolved the energetic whirlpools of desires, like and dislikes, etc., you will live in soul consciousness.
Yes, it’s a project, but there’s good news: Yoganandaji said that every time you meditate, you neutralize some of those whirlpools. So keep at it, don’t worry about past desires, and know that good things are happening. You'll get there.
Obedience vs. Cooperative Obedience
October 14, 2014
What is the difference between obedience and cooperative obedience? These have never been very clear to me.
Swami Kriyananda tried very hard, for many years, to explain the subtle difference between the principles of obedience and cooperative obedience. The difference is subtle, but very important to understand, so thanks for asking!
He said: “Cooperative obedience means evoking intelligent, creative participation in whatever people are being asked to do, as opposed to that kind of obedience which asks people for their cooperation, but never allows them to ask questions.”
As an example, Swamiji often told a story about how, long ago, novices in a monastery were told to unquestioningly transplant small plants with the roots pointing upwards — a very foolish thing to do, because the plant simply can’t grow that way. This was done to test the novices' obedience leaving no room for questions or use of common sense.
Swamiji felt (rightly so!) that this sort of leadership would crush a person’s enthusiasm for a project and produce only non-creative robot-types, rather than joyful, intelligent people, working together for the good of all.
He also said: “A good leader will invite cooperation from others, rather than demanding their obedience. A leader can try to enforce obedience. But he or she will do so at the cost of losing people’s willingness and loyal support. Without these—indeed, without true enthusiasm on his or her part—a leader will never draw forth their best efforts.”
Finally he suggests: “Make harmony your priority. A rebellious spirit may win one some points now and then, but in the end, too much of it will destroy one’s peace of mind and inner attunement, and will, in addition, disturb others—all to no avail. Peace and harmony are the foundations of the spiritual life.”
God is All-Loving and All-Forgiving
October 14, 2014
Is God really all-loving and all-forgiving? For example, does he also forgive people like Hitler, Stalin and so on? I have learned that God loves every soul equally. Is this also true in such cases? I can’t stop wondering if there might be something one can do which God wouldn’t forgive. Is there any exception to his Love and forgiveness? I was raised Catholic and the idea of an angry God traumatized me deeply. I am still working on my doubt that God is all-forgiving and loving.
Forgiveness implies there is judgment. How can God judge a part of Himself? According to the Masters, God would no more judge us than we would judge our hand. We are, always have been, and always will be, inseparable from God. The only separation is in our awareness. The saints describe the experience of reuniting with God as awakening to a reality that has always been. It is only our preoccupation with a tiny portion of the infinity of God — our body, personal feelings, desires, and thoughts — that keeps us from knowing our oneness with Him right now.
Our transgressions, our sins — no matter how terrible they seem — are not indelible black marks in a book of judgment. Instead they are mistakes resulting from misunderstanding, misperceiving who and what we really are. The original meaning of sin comes to us from medieval archery. To sin is to miss the target. Once we start hitting the target all our misses don’t matter. We can make the most colossal misses — falling into anger, selfishness, greed, hatred, murder, or even mass murder — but if we eventually begin to hit the target our past misses are meaningless.
There is a story told in India that a powerful demon stole the elephant of Indra, the king of the gods. The demon delighted in chasing and goring the gods of Indra’s court. The gods finally rallied and began in turn to chase the demon who fled to the very realm of God. Barely staying ahead of his pursuers the demon crashed into God’s court and came to a sliding stop before the throne of God. Indra and the other outraged gods arrived and were raising their fearsome weapons to destroy the demon when God shouted, “Stop!”
The gods were surprised but obedient. They described in detail the outrages the demon had perpetrated on them. God only smiled and said, “It doesn’t matter how he got here. He is here now. He has found God.”
You can never become anything other than the inextricable part of God that is your essence. God does not judge our wandering far from that understanding in action and thought. He waits patiently, all-lovingly, for us to figure out our true nature. He sends us saints and sages to call us home to Him. Never judging, He whispers to us through our intuition. He helps us through our conscience. He responds to us in prayer in meditation. We are God and God is us. Nothing we do can ever change that.
Puru (Joseph) Selbie
Clarifying the Meaning of Nishkam Karma
October 9, 2014
I’ve just started to practice nishkam karma as much as I can, though it can be very difficult at times. The reason is there are some genuine interests of mine such as pursuing a job in some science subject and also a lifelong interest in it. But when doing nishkam karma, is it wrong to pursue such selfish interests? Is it wrong to work hard to go for a career in it? I’m confused how to maintain nishkam karma along with these interests or is it even right to. Please explain. Thank you!
Nishkam karma simply means not being attached to the results of your actions. It is your God-given right and duty to pursue a livelihood in a field that interests you. Pursue an honest and industrious life filled with God’s presence in your heart and consciousness as the doer performing all actions through you.
Let the results of your efforts unfold as they will and give God the credit when something works out well and even the blame when perhaps it doesn’t. This is an opportunity for you to grow spiritually with a constant dialogue between you and Divine Mother. Become aware of Her guidance in all that you do and you will gradually succeed in the most important endeavor we can ever pursue, Oneness with our Divine Self.
In Divine Friendship,
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